If you’re an avid Pulp Fiction watcher or know people who avidly watch the movie and religiously quote it the same way those people who have convinced themselves they’re some self righteous pariahs quote the Bible then you can easily finish this sentence and if you can’t finish this sentence then I implore of you to watch Pulp Fiction. This blog post however isn’t about Pulp Fiction or how great Quentin Tarantino is as a writer. This is about another cross in my life I’ve been given to carry with pride as much as I don’t want to at times. People who know me personally already know where this blog is going .
For the longest time I’ve been asked a question I constantly want to punch people for asking, even when that question is asked with the best of intentions. “Oh why do you talk like that?” “What’s wrong with your voice?” “Why do you sound like that?” “Stop talking like that, talk faster?” Most of the time people are genuinely curious but unfortunately it’s the people who are assholes that have caused me to despise the question.You wouldn’t have the balls to ask a person missing a leg “what happened to their leg?” and you sure as hell wouldn’t ask a person in a wheelchair “Why are you in a chair?” without getting to truly know them first so why the hell would you have the balls to ask me why I talk the way I do and to add insult to injury, think that I do it just to dick around and that I can somehow magically turn the “SPED switch” off and all of a sudden sound the way society believes “everyone else” is supposed to sound (SPED is short for “Special Education” but had turned into a now outdated derogatory term to insult any one with an intellectual disability).
Those who have heard me talk will know that I talk at a somewhat slow pace and have no intonation in my voice what so ever. It sounds very robotic and at times emotionless and and even muffled. My love/hate relationship with my voice started at the tender age of nine. We are all accustomed to hearing our own voice differently than others usually hear it. I never really had an issue with with my voice, that is until people started mocking me in a way I didn’t think I sounded. I though they were just being stupid until I decided to play around with my mother’s tape recorder and was greeted to the ugliness that was my voice. Not may things disgusted me at the age of nine but quite frankly, I was disgusted. People would continue to mock me and I was constantly called a retard. In middle school and high school when I answered questions I was pretty much waiting for people in the back of the room to start imitating my pace of speech. During my sophomore year of high school in a public library one day while waiting for a youth group, a group of kids heard my pace of speech and I guess they assumed “oh he must be “special” kid because they would then constantly throw things at me and mock me”. I’m not normally a violent person but it was one of the first times I contemplated kicking the shit out of the two boys and one female who decided it was fun to treat me like less of a person.
It didn’t stop in college either and the more people kept asking that question and getting the wrong idea about who I was as a person, the more I started to hate my voice and the less I started talking. In situations where I have to talk an introduce myself to people within my age group I don’t even know every well, I am struck with a sometimes crippling anxiety that prevents me from even introducing myself to new people in the first place. This is even worse with women and sometimes I miss out on really great opportunities to chat it up with ladies who turn out being really down to earth because I’m afraid of rejection. I know it should be as easy as “oh screw it, they’re not worth my time and energy” but it really isn’t, especially when you’ve been hurt as much as I have. If I’m in a bar setting then this crippling anxiety can easily be cured with alcohol but in settings where alcohol isn’t present I just have to grit my teeth and let me tell you, it can be pretty painful.
I’ve gotten better at carrying this cross and I’ve gotten better at approaching people without being under the influence of alcohol but it still can be tricky at times, especially when you don’t know what to expect with whatever new person I meet on a casual basis. A part of me is wired to wait for any new person I meet to ask that same question where I would have to simply answer “because that’s just how I talk” or if they can’t accept that answer have to explain to them that I’m Autistic and that’s just how I process speech. To this very day I still don’t understand what in my messy wiring causes me to process speech the way I do and I may never truly understand. I just understand that this voice is yet another cross I have to carry. I’m a man of many crosses and have to carry those crosses with a smile on my face because it is my purpose.
I guess the point of this post is that curiosity kills the cat in the worse way possible. As curious as we are there are certain questions we should try as hard as we humanly possibly can not to ask because to point certain things out to people like it’s a problem or in the context that a sticks out and that it’s different for you can cause unnecessary stress and insecurity. You see, if you keep asking the person who has their half of their face burnt what happened to their face or what’s wrong with their face, they’re going to get really insecure because people keep pointing it out. It’s there and it will always be that creeping pink elephant in the room. If you absolutely insist on asking and you feel like you might die of curiosity if you don’t ask, don’t sound like an asshole when you do. Instead of saying “oh hey why do you talk like that?” or “dude, what’s wrong with your voice” how about “hey, that’s an awesome voice, where did you get it?” or even better “hey, I like your shirt” or “nice kicks (sneakers for those who don’t understand ebonics) or “dude, you’re an epic pool player” or “hey, I like the way you kick ass in DDR or Dance Central”. You see, because I’m aware that my voice can sometimes make me stick out in the worse way possible, I had to develop a rather large talent set within a short time frame just to compensate for the fact that I can’t speak at they pace society thinks I should speak. I do it in hopes that people will forget that I sound like a robot.
I hope this was an informative rant and I hope it teaches you that the next time you see something about a person that feels a little off for you, you’ll point out something else about the person that compliments them unless you have a clever way to point out what they feel is a flaw in a good light. Also, There are very few people in this world who I will let imitate they way I talk and only because I know they will kick the shit out of anyone who ever tried to mock me behind my back. I hope this enlightened you as gritty as it sounded at times. Stay classy people.